2019 reading review

books | personal | reviews | year in review

I’ve always loved to read. For a while, I stopped reading but I’ve slowly been getting back into it again over the last couple of years and keeping track of what I’m reading. This year, for the first time in a while, I’ve achieved the number of books I wanted to read well before the year was over! I was aiming for 15 and I hit that in October. So I thought it might be fun to do a little 2019 reading review of the books that have kept me occupied over the last 12 months!

For the record, I use Goodreads to keep track and I’m not that great at writing reviews for books, so I’ll keep these brief!

Admissions by Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh is the author of one of my all-time favourite books – Do No Harm. So I started this book in earnest, thinking it would be an awesome follow up to the first book. It wasn’t to be. It was a lovely book and an enjoyable read, but it just didn’t gut punch me as the first book did. I read Do No Harm in an afternoon on a beach in Tanzania. This one was a tougher, longer read!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I couldn’t move to Canada and NOT read a book by one of the most prolific Canadian authors around. I picked up a copy of this book from my awesome local book shop and read it in a few days. It blew me away and terrified me in equal parts and I can now see why this is a book people are raving about. I am desperate to read the sequel!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My husband bought me a signed copy of this book so it was about time I read it! Honestly, not my favourite book of the year but I didn’t hate it either. I just felt a bit ‘meh’ about the main character and if you can’t get on board with them, there’s always going to be something missing, right?

How To Be A Canadian by Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, by Will Ferguson, is probably one of the main reasons I decided I wanted to live in Canada. I read the book some years ago now and it was so funny and so beautiful. It left a huge impression, much like the country itself. So I figured I should read How To Be A Canadian now I was living here, for some well-needed tips on integrating into Canadian society! Well, excuse my shoulder shrug but this was a bit of a disappointment. I felt the comedy was lacking, although good in a few sporadic places. But they could have done so much more with this book! Not the best read, I’m afraid.

Your Story is Your Power by Elle Luna and Susie Herrick

This book was a lovely gift from my friend Carla and it was a very sweet dip-in and dip-out kind of book, rather than a straight read from start to finish. Well presented with some stunning illustrations throughout too.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I thought a book about happiness would be lighthearted and fun to read. I thought I’d race through this book in no time. But, oh, what a slog it was! Don’t let the happy, bright and cartoonish cover fool you. This is basically an academic paper and it’s pretty dry. I got through it, but I wouldn’t say I’m all the happier for it.

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Well, wow what a book! I’d only briefly read the blurb and knew this was a modern re-telling of The Little Mermaid. But I was not expecting such a dark and disturbing read! This is not a modern re-telling of the DISNEY version of The Little Mermaid. This is a modern re-telling of the ORIGINAL story. A story, I came to learn, that was much darker and deeper than ‘Under the Sea’ ever lets on. Beautifully re-told, and current with the rise of modern feminism. This book is well worth a read.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

About halfway through this year, I made an interesting discovery. I discovered I was still a writer and that this is actually what I wanted to do with my life, not photography (although it’s still there a little bit!). That revelation took me into the world of books about writing. I read (again), Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I won’t count that as one of my books because it’s an easy read for me, I’ve read it so many times. But this book kept cropping up in lists of books to read about writing and so I had to grab myself a copy. It does not disappoint. Anne Lamott writes with a down to earth and honest nature. She doesn’t sugarcoat how tough being a writer is. She doesn’t pretty it up and she stays well away from the glitz and glamour of being a “published author”. I bloody loved this book and recommend you read it too if you’ve ever thought about being a writer yourself.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling

I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I read Harry Potter. I keep saying I want to read them again but never seem to find the time. But I will, I definitely will. Saying that… you do not need to have recently read them to read this. It’s a book in its own right and very easy to slip into, no matter how long it has been since you finished reading the series. It is in play format, just so you know. I know some people dislike that but I quite like it. And I loved this story! Now I want to go back and read the series again more than ever!

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding

Written by the author of Bridget Jones’ Diary, I was expecting great things from this book. But, folks, this is no Bridget Jones. It’s easy to read, funny in places, but that’s about it. Don’t expect great things, don’t expect good things. Expect an easy read that is pretty forgettable afterwards.

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

I have to admit, I’ve never understood the Seth Godin hype. I’ve read his blog and I find it quite difficult to enjoy and be engaged in it. I succumbed to the hype and peer pressure when I picked up this book, though. But I’m certain I fell asleep several times while reading it. Don’t get me wrong, the ideas and the premise are great. I just don’t think they’re written about in a particularly engaging way. Not to the extent that a small business owner like me would enjoy anyway!

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

I admit I succumbed to yet more hype when I picked up this book. And, given the recurrent theme here, you’d think I’d learn that this is not a good idea. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to this book. It was, ugh, okaaay if I had to put a word on it. But it wasn’t life-changing and, well, it was all a bit annoying after a while!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

Another one I picked up because people said it was amazing. Ugh. Right, that’s it. I’m not going to do that anymore! Again, it was ok. There were some nuggets of wisdom throughout the book and I like the fact that Mr M doesn’t mince his words. But, in that case, don’t wuss out and put a star in the word ‘fuck’ on the cover! As “self-help” books go, it was alright and only mildly annoying.

Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Another book about writing but not done as well as Anne Lamott’s gem, I’m afraid. Again, it was ok in parts but I skipped out some bits because it repeated many other books I’ve read without offering anything new to the table.

Books on the go currently…

Then we reached the part of the year where I kept starting books and struggling to finish them! So, currently, I have on the go:


Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis – I’m not impressed. I’ve read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and she did the “walking through the woods after a traumatic event” much better. Also, not sure how many times this girl has to use the word ‘rape’ in a book. It’s distracting and dulls the word beyond all measure through its overuse, which is a shame. I may finish this book yet, I’m not sure. For now, it sits by my bed mocking me. 

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – I’d heard so much good stuff about this book. I was so looking forward to starting it but I find it leaves me feeling a bit flat, which a book about creativity shouldn’t do, should it? Am unsure whether to persist with this one!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – Actually don’t mind this one because the girl writes quippily and makes me chuckle. But, ugh, if there isn’t a lot of Jesus loving in it, which doesn’t appeal to my agnostic nature! Sorry folks! Finding it hard to wade through that stuff at times. 

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I was sooooo looking forward to this. Especially after binge-watching almost 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy since arriving in Canada this year. But oh if I can’t fall in love with it as much as I love Meredith Grey!

I hit a wall with non-fiction at this point. So, Andrea suggested I switch back to fiction, which is why I’m now halfway through The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I’m pleased to say I’m loving it. It is not what I would read normally. I must admit to reading it because I love Liz Gilbert so much. But it’s interesting and a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see where the story goes! I’ll keep you posted on that one!

So, there you have it. My books over the last 12 months! How about you? What are you reading? What HAVE you read? Any doozies? Any good ones I MUST read? (Although they better be good otherwise you’ll be getting a moan from me in my next reading review post!)